EXCLUSIVE: SF Walgreens employee scared to work after she was attacked by suspected shoplifter

The employee does not believe the closing of 5 locations will improve security at the dozens of other stores in San Francisco.

Dion Lim Image
Friday, October 15, 2021
EXCLUSIVE: SF Walgreens employee scared to work after attack
A San Francisco Walgreens employee is speaking out about a recent string of incidents that make her feel unsafe at work.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On the heels of Walgreens closing five stores in San Francisco due to shoplifting, an employee is speaking out about a recent string of incidents that make her feel unsafe at work.

"I'm 63 years old. And I need to work to survive. I'm not working at Walgreens to get hurt."

The employee, who only wants to be identified by her nickname of Bibi, recalls the shocking experience she had while working at a San Francisco store in May of 2020 when she asked a suspected shoplifter to put on a mask.

RELATED: 5 more San Francisco Walgreens to close; official says it's directly related to retail theft

"He turned back to me and threw a basket at me. I was hit in the forehead."

Bibi missed two weeks of work. She scrolled through photos on her phone showing a dark red gash in her forehead which was glued together at the hospital. Images also show a black eye.

Bibi says she still suffers from emotional trauma.

"I'm scared. Whenever I go to work I'm thinking, 'am I safe? Is something going to happen to me?'"

VIDEO: Thief steals garbage bag full of items from SF Walgreens with security filming in plain sight

Cell phone video taken Monday shows some of the brazen crime that has been driving retailers out of San Francisco.

Not long after being hit with the shopping basket, she says she and a colleague were pepper sprayed by a shoplifter.

"Going to work every day your life is like 50/50. Because you don't know if there's a shoplifter that they're going to do (something) to you, or is it going to be quiet and easy?" says Bibi.

Stories like Bibi's are not uncommon. Shoplifting along with other incidents such as one from 2018 where a person deploys the contents of a fire extinguisher into the store, have been widely documented. A now viral video taken by ABC7 News reporter Lyanne Melendez at the Hayes Valley store in June, shows a shoplifter with a garbage bag full of items.

RELATED: Suspect from viral SF Walgreens heist video to face 15 charges, San Francisco DA says

A security supervisor contracted by Walgreens speaking on the condition of anonymity, says she wanted to speak out despite concerns of possibly losing her job for doing so.

"I think someone's life is way more important than a job."

She described a typical day, working at various locations she oversees.

"I've been spit on, coughed on, stepped on, had a pee bottle thrown at me. I've been cut by a shoplifter, I've been hit by a shoplifter," she explained.

VIDEO: Another San Francisco Walgreens to close following months of rampant shoplifting

The Walgreens at Van Ness and Eddy in San Francisco is set to close on Nov. 11 because of rampant shoplifting.

Both she and Bibi say despite the constant threat of attack they love what they do.

"Walgreens is a family and people who have been here have been here for years. To have this family doesn't feel like a job"

They believe closing five stores won't improve security at the dozens of other stores in San Francisco.

RELATED: SF Walgreens stores average 4x more thefts than rest of country, company says

"Check on your employees, don't think of your business. Think about your people because you don't know what's going to happen to them. Are you going to wait for someone to die?" implores Bibi.

Walgreens provided us a statement Wednesday saying they have increased security measures at its stores in San Francisco to 46 times the average, compared to other areas.

A request to Walgreens corporate Thursday for more details was not returned in time for deadline.

A friend of Bibi's, a customer who was also attacked at a Walgreens several years ago set up a GoFundMe for Bibi to help pay for psychological treatment.